Big Brands—The BU Uniform and Fitting In

Boston University has a reputation for being diverse, but when you stroll down Comm. Ave, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of Canada Goose jackets, white Gucci sneakers, and Louis Vuitton backpacks and bags.

The Canada Goose phenomenon is an interesting occurrence at Boston University. It’s almost impossible to walk from point A to B without spotting a flock of these designer $900+ jackets, which dominate the fashion and culture at BU. It’s a huge topic in conversation— I’d be that much closer to affording one if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say “Yes!! They’re so warm!.” They reign over headlines, too. In 2015, BU Today looked at the success behind Canada Goose. In 2016 and 2019, the publication wrote about these iconic jackets again, in the context of theft. A Google search for “Boston University Canada Goose” yields tons of results, including statements made by the BU Police Department and even articles by sources like Buzzfeed. The BU Facebook Meme page is full of hilarious posts about the “BU Uniform,” complete with the staple, black, thousand-dollar coats to contrast with a pair of white Apple AirPods and captions like “sorry, I don’t speak broke.”

Credit: BU TODAY

Canada Goose isn’t the only big designer brand that has reached the masses at Boston University. The people without them flaunt their Moncler coats, featuring a smaller sleeve logo and an average price tag only a couple of hundred dollars cheaper. The majority of shoes also belong to the same few brands— hundreds of L.L. Bean duck boots, Yeezys, and Gucci Ace leather sneakers stepping into muddy puddles and leaving prints in the slush-like snow.

Credit: Fidelity Pawn

A lot of it is due to the city culture— BU’s location puts its students on the same stomping grounds as the city’s young, trendy professionals, who hang out at the Pru all the time, renewing their seasonal wardrobes at stores like Neiman Marcus and shopping for their in-home gyms at Peloton. Students at Boston University can end their school days at the same place, with dinner at Eataly and a pick-me-up from Sephora.

Credit: We Heart It

There’s an interesting, seemingly contradictory mix in the culture. Students pair Primark steals with Louis Vuitton totes and Forever 21 pieces featured with Gucci accessories. It’s still hard, however, for students without the big brand buys to not feel left out. Much like the way expensive winter coats and Apple AirPods multiply quickly, seeing a trend makes a lot of people want to quickly get on the bandwagon.

Credit: Alexandra Lapp 

The most expensive thing I own, save for my MacBook, is probably an MCM backpack that my aunt got me for my birthday. I brought it to college, but the leather is still pretty stiff, so I preferred my PINK backpack almost all of the first semester. Quickly, however, as I adjusted more and more to BU, I slowly began to make the switch.

I know that designer brands aren’t a necessity, but they definitely catch my eye on the streets and have influenced me. The need to fit in is an extremely strong urge. More and more, as I eye the fashion on Commonwealth Ave, I want to swap my white Adidas Superstars for white Gucci kicks, adorned with bees on the side. Investing in an oh-so-warm Canada Goose parka sounds less and less unreasonable. My small-town friends have similar experiences with the city energy— their ideas of splurges and impulse buys escalate from $70 Ralph Lauren beanies from Urban Outfitters to really, really wanting a Louis Vuitton phone case.

Credit: Noelle's Favorite Things

While there’s an argument that could be made here about materialism, I think it’s a lot more about the search for our identity. Young adults did it before with pink streaks in their hair, and we’re experimenting the same way, but with expensive purchases and brand loyalty.


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